The X Files: Technogenesis
Yves Adele Harlow squinted against the harsh desert sun, even behind the dark sunglasses she wore. She sat uncomfortably in the passenger seat of a battered four by four that jounced roughly along a dusty, potholed road.
The man driving the old pickup was a fair-haired, boyish fellow who shared his name with a fictional MI6 agent. He fumbled with a much-folded map as he struggled with the truck’s sloppy steering.
“Jimmy, let me navigate,” Yves said, her crisp British accent strangely at odds with the desolate landscape outside.
“Girls can’t read maps,” Mr. Bond muttered testily.
“Pardon me?” She glared balefully at him, pouting a pair of full lips. The vehicle’s air conditioning had died not long after they’d passed the border, and the searing heat of a Mexican summer had sapped at their patience.
“It can’t be far now,” Jimmy grumbled through clenched teeth. He relented and tossed the map to Yves for the sake of peace. “God damn these guys really know how to lose themselves.”
“They’re ghosts now,” Yves said softly, pushing a dark lock of hair out of her face. She stared out the window, remembering her own self-imposed exile; the strain of living on the run, in the shadows.
The deeply rutted dirt track crested a rise and they drove down into a sheltered depression in the desert floor. Nestled in the lee of a rocky hill was a dusty old trailer home.
“There!” Jimmy announced unnecessarily. They pulled up outside the trailer and climbed out, Yves grimacing sourly at the heat and dust.
“Hello!” Jimmy hollered, striding over to the rusty door.
“Be careful, Jimmy,” Yves warned. “They aren’t expecting company and might not be very happy to see us here.”
“What are you talking about? We’re on the same side – fellow travellers.” Jimmy eagerly reached for the door handle and stumbled awkwardly on the step, dropping half to his knees. Were it not for his clumsiness, a good portion of his cranium would have been lost, for at that instant, a large round hole was blasted out of the steel door with the distinctive, resounding boom of a shotgun.
Jimmy swore and fell back onto the seat of his pants in the dirt. The trailer door was kicked open violently by a tall, shirtless figure brandishing an intimidating striker semi-automatic shotgun that he levelled at Jimmy.
“Mulder, it’s me!” Jimmy shouted, throwing his hands up.
Fox Mulder narrowed his beady dark eyes, staring across the sights of the gun. “How do I know that you’re really you?” he demanded in his typical monotone (which would have bored Jimmy instantly if the former FBI agent didn’t have a powerful firearm aimed at his face).
“Agent Mulder!” Yves yelled, running forward to the aid of her lover. “It’s us – we’re human.”
“If that’s true, then why are you here?” The new voice belonged to a petite, auburn-haired woman dressed in a sweat-stained singlet top and shorts, who stepped around from behind the trailer, aiming an antiquated, rust-pitted AK-47 assault rifle at the pair.
“Why would you come after us against our explicit directions?” Dana Scully pressed, edging forward cautiously.
“Because somebody has sent us a message for you,” Yves said. “And the safest way to get it to you was to come in person.”
“You call this safe?” Jimmy muttered, staring cross-eyed at the shotgun barrel inches from his face.
A few long moments passed in silence before Mulder reluctantly lowered his weapon and extended a hand to help Jimmy to his feet.
“Were you followed or tracked?” Scully asked sternly, lowering her own gun.
“‘Course not,” Jimmy said. “We aren’t stupid.” Mulder raised an eyebrow at him, but made no comment.
Scully wasn’t entirely satisfied until she had checked the backs of their visitor’s necks for unusual protrusions and drawn some blood to make sure it was red. After that preliminary security check, Yves and Jimmy sat and drank in the trailer’s cosy interior.
“Sorry for trying to blow your head off,” Mulder said, chewing on a sunflower seed. “Thought you were the landlord coming for the rent.”
“That’s okay, happens all the time,” Jimmy replied. They were seated around a tiny table that was cluttered with bullets of various calibres, their tips carved out and filled with a magnetite compound.
“Not that we don’t appreciate your recent assistance,” Dana said, “but we really need to know why you’ve come here.” Scully and Mulder had enlisted the aid of Yves and Jimmy, the new Lone Gunmen, as a clandestine source of information and a safe line of communication to Scully’s family.
“Right, of course,” Yves said. “As I mentioned before, somebody contacted us with a message for you.”
“Somebody?” Dana repeated sceptically.
“Someone calling himself ‘Cold Angel’,” Jimmy chipped in. “We got no idea who he is.”
“Or if it is actually a ‘he’,” Yves added pointedly, arching her eyebrows at him.
“Wow, careful there partner,” Mulder said to Jimmy. “Hell hath no fury…”
“This person,” Yves went on, “claims to possess knowledge that could prevent a global apocalypse, something they said you know about, which is supposed to happen on the twenty-second of December, 2012.”
Mulder and Scully looked at each other, wide-eyed.
“Three days before Christmas,” Jimmy noted. “Bummer, huh?”
“Bummer,” Mulder repeated absently. He was staring into space and Scully frowned at him in concern when he actually licked his lips.
“Mulder, it’s obviously a trap,” she said. “It’s a ploy to lure us out, you have to see that.”
“Obvious, yes. It would be too obvious,” Mulder replied slowly, shaking his head. “So obvious that it couldn’t possibly be the work of the men who are out to kill us – they’re too good for that. These men don’t make mistakes, they’re masters at the game of deception; nothing they do is obvious, not like this.”
“Unless that’s what they want us to think,” Scully said, playing the nine-year-old game of chess against her partner’s vastly different perspective.
“Seems a little paranoid,” Mulder said, grinning wryly and popping another seed into his mouth. Scully pulled a face at him.
“I’m actually inclined to agree with Agent Scully,” Yves said. “This person, Cold Angel, claims to be an old associate of the two of you but wouldn’t give a name. They claim to be able to stop this impending Armageddon, but in exchange for this information, they want to meet you and get information from you.”
“Sounds like a load of monkey dung, huh?” Jimmy said. “But we still thought you should know.”
“It’s some kind of dung,” Scully agreed.
A silence descended, and Jimmy took a moment to look at the two ex-FBI agents. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully: legendary crusaders for the truth – figures of almost godlike standing in circles of conspiracy theorists. They were leaner than the last time he’d seen them, more muscular and deeply tanned; undoubtedly a result of their newly imposed lifestyle. No longer were they the suit and tie-wearing government employees who dwelt in the corridors of power – they had gone native, regressed to a more basic state of savage necessity.
“So what is all this about the apocalypse?” Yves asked, breaking the silence.
“Don’t ask,” Mulder said with uncharacteristic seriousness. “It can’t be proven and it wouldn’t do you any good anyway. It isn’t something you guys can publish.”
“It’s about aliens, right?” Jimmy blurted enthusiastically. “I’ve been reviewing all the Gunmen’s old files – I know all about what you guys investigated when you were at the FBI, the X files and all that. It’s some kind of invasion, isn’t it?”
“Boy, what part of ‘don’t ask’ don’t you understand?” Mulder muttered.
“Whatever this is about,” Yves said, “the person supplied a telephone number for you to call should you wish to pursue this, though I would advise against it.” She produced a card and laid it on the table atop a stack of AK magazines. “If you do, I don’t need to tell you that you should make the call a long way away from here, and then don’t hang around afterward.”
“We won’t be calling anyone,” Scully said. “But thank you all the same for taking the time to keep us informed.”
Mulder looked at the card fixedly.
The Gunmen left, hoping to make it back to the tarmac road before nightfall, and Mulder and Scully went through the evening routine of securing alarm-mounted tripwires around their encampment. Neither mentioned the mysterious contact, nor did either of them make a point of picking up the numbered card that still lay on their table – it was a battle of wills between them, and later in the evening it was Scully who finally relented.
“You’re not seriously considering this, are you?” she demanded as they lay naked beside each other on the narrow bed.
“How can we afford to not consider it, Dana?” he responded. “With what’s being offered to us, if there’s even a small chance that this person is telling the truth, how can we afford to not take the risk?”
She sighed expressively and bit him on the shoulder, quite hard. “Maybe you’ve forgotten the hell we escaped from only months ago, Fox.”
He grimaced, still not used to her usage of his much reviled Christian name. “We never give up, that’s what you said, Dana,” he whispered, reaching over to cup one of her bare breasts in his hand. “We have to keep fighting… digging for a way; some answer to avert what we know is coming.”
“Mm.” She nestled against him, closing her eyes. “We can’t fight this war if we’re dead,” she murmured in a husky voice.
He kissed her softly, then harder. “I could go alone,” he said. “That way, if something happens, you’ll still be here to…”
“Like hell!” Scully interrupted.
“Didn’t think you’d be too fond of that idea.”
“Fox, I know that this is the sort of thing we need to be doing if we’re to stand any hope of opposing the men who are behind the conspiracy, but think; this is too convenient, people aren’t supposed to come to us. We dig and dig and dig, and at the end of the day we only ever have half the truth – that’s the way it’s always worked.”
“And what if it’s providence?” Mulder stroked her hair. “What if this is the real deal, the one-off time when there really are no strings attached, no smoking men or shape-shifters or super-soldiers waiting to pounce?”
“And if there are?” she whispered back.
“Worst case scenario, we get a chance to try out our nifty new magnetite bullets.”
Scully looked into his face, inches from her own, the inquisitive, humorous face that she had come to know so well. Mulder looked back at her, blue/green eyes and aquiline nose – a face that gave away so much more than she ever knew, despite her attempts to appear impassive.
“We take every precaution,” she said.
“Of course,” Mulder replied. He felt an obscure elation, as though he was a child whose parents had finally allowed him to go on a slumber party against their own judgement.
“And if it all goes to hell, you owe me a beer,” she added mischievously.
2: Deus Ex Machina.
A figure in a dark coat and baseball cap marched stiffly through the corridors of FBI headquarters, unconcerned by the clerks and agents that were forced to shuffle out of the way. The person stopped abruptly at the end of a hall, inspecting the elevator control panel from behind pink-tinted glasses. With movements almost decrepit in their rigidity, he or she pushed the down button and then waited, perfectly motionless, for the doors to slide open.
Special Agent Monica Reyes crouched on the floor of the basement office, surrounded by the discarded debris of the X files unit that still littered the floor. Empty boxes and discarded cover sheets were strewn about randomly in the aftermath of a frenzied dismantling operation.
“You bastards,” Reyes whispered to herself. She picked up a curious metal object from the carpet; something that looked like two coins fused together at a perpendicular angle.
Sensing movement and feeling instantly on guard, Reyes straightened and spun around in one fluid movement, her hand edging imperceptibly toward her holstered sidearm. A person stood in the doorway draped in an ankle-length dark coat, face shadowed by a baseball cap.
“Hi,” Reyes said hesitantly, noting the visitor’s badge clipped to the person’s chest. “Can I… help you with something?”
The person scanned the bare office slowly, and then fixed on Monica. A thin-lipped mouth opened and words spilled fourth in a deep baritone voice devoid of inflection.
“Where are the X files?” the man said, in a sinister, expressionless voice.
Reyes would have laughed had it not been for the geyser of cynicism that bubbled up within her. “Yeah, I’ve been asking myself that too, sir,” she said.
The man said nothing, staring at her and remaining perfectly still. Reyes caught a glimpse of pink-tinted sunglasses in the shadows of his face.
“Unfortunately the X files unit has been shut down,” she told him. “But maybe I can help you?”
“The files.” The man stepped forward stiffly. “Where have the files been stored?”
“Excuse me?” Monica blinked in surprise, feeling a sudden inexplicable chill shoot up her spine. The coat-wearing man stared at her, his face unreadable.
“Who are you?” Reyes demanded, moving her hand closer to her gun.
The man lifted his arm and pointed a finger at Reyes. For the first time, she noticed that he was wearing some sort of skin-coloured rubber gloves. As she looked, the finger of the glove split apart, a spindly steel apparatus unfolding from within. Two small metal prongs pointed at Monica’s face.
“What the f…?” That was as far as she got. There was a tremendous flash of light before her eyes, and with a wallop of high voltage she was thrown across the room to slam down, dazed, on her back with a wisp of smoke trailing from her hair.
When Reyes gathered her wits, she found herself looking up at the man, who was aiming his tazer finger down at her.
“Where have the files been stored?” the man repeated. A blue spark of electricity leapt between the prongs. Reyes’ eyes widened; she noticed for the first time that the man’s mouth only opened when he spoke – it didn’t move or reshape to make sounds, the words coming out fully formed through open lips.
With her body racked by pain, muscles still twitching spasmodically, Monica managed to draw her weapon and aim it up at the figure looming over her.
“What the hell are you?” she rasped, holding the automatic pistol in shaking fingers.
“I require access to the documentation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation cases investigated by Agents Fox William Mulder and Dana Katherine Scully,” the man (or being) intoned expressionlessly, his mouth motionless.
“Drop the tazer or I will shoot you, sir.” Another bolt of electricity lanced into Monica’s flesh, causing her to cry out. Her muscles contracted involuntarily and the gun went off; deafening in the enclosed room.
“Where have the files been stored?” the man said for the third time. He hadn’t flinched when the bullet punched into his midsection, and Reyes couldn’t see any blood.
“Oh God,” she whispered. Lifting the pistol, she fired two more rounds into the man’s chest. There were sparks, and a ricochet whined past her face. “Jesus!” She aimed higher, repeatedly firing her gun into the face of the looming figure. The man’s hat blew off, along with his glasses and several sizable chunks of what Monica had thought to be skin, but was in fact a rubberized foam substance that fell away in bloodless lumps to reveal…
Monica gasped in horror, suddenly oblivious to the electrical burns on her face and torso. Beneath the fake skin fašade was steel, gleaming under the fluorescent lights.
“Provide me with the information that I require and the possibility exists that you will not die here,” the man said. “A projectile weapon of that calibre cannot disable me; any further attempts to defend yourself will prove fruitless and only serve to reduce the chance of my sparing you from further physical pain.” As if to emphasise the point, another spark of electricity arced across the prongs of the man’s tazer finger.
“I don’t know where they’ve been taken,” Monica breathed, letting the gun drop from her fingers. “I wish that I did… the X files unit has been dismantled and everything’s been taken. I don’t know who authorized it or where it’s gone.”
The entity took a few moments to digest this before shooting Monica with another incandescent bolt of electricity. She passed out on the floor, smoke trailing from her blouse, and the man/machine strode away.
Assistant Director Walter Skinner tiredly rubbed at the bridge of his nose before replacing his glasses. The sheaf of papers that sat on the desk before him hadn’t shrunk at all since the beginning of the day; ongoing fallout from what the media had unimaginatively dubbed ‘The Fox Mulder Affair’. Statements and forms were still being requested from both the Navy and the FBI in the wake of Mulder’s disappearance from a military prison after being sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Skinner couldn’t concentrate; the events of the past months played in his mind and he felt almost physically ill. His letter of resignation still lay in his desk draw, Walter having taken it out several times with the intent of dropping it on the director’s desk, but something had kept stopping him. He liked to think it was something more meaningful than just an old man’s resistance to change, but that romantic notion was being slowly eroded.
A shrill shout outside his office door broke Skinner’s reverie and he surged to his feet as the door was thrown violently open and a dark coat-garbed figure marched in.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Skinner demanded angrily, stepping around the desk to confront the intruder. He stopped, mouth agape, when he saw the man’s face; a tattered coating of flesh-coloured plastic did little to conceal the metal beneath.
The machine grabbed the front of Skinner’s suit with one plastic-coated hand and threw him bodily across the office, where he smashed into the far wall. The bald Assistant Director slid down the wall with a groan as the figure walked over to him.
“Where have the files from the basement office been stored?” the man droned.
“You go to hell!” Skinner snarled, baring his teeth in feral defiance. He got to his feet and grabbed a large fire extinguisher from a wall mounting beside him, swinging the heavy cylinder like a baseball bat. With a ringing clang, the extinguisher connected with the man’s cranium, causing him (or it) to stumble. Skinner swung again, landing a blow across the man’s rubber face.
With inhuman speed, the person shot out a hand that wrapped around Skinner’s face, crushing his nose. The intruder slammed Skinner’s head backward into the wall, creating a sizable dent in the plaster veneer.
“I require information contained within the case files of Agents Fox William Mulder and Dana Katherine Scully,” the metal man said.
Skinner gripped the hose of the extinguisher and punched the nozzle forward blindly. After a dozen attempts, he finally managed to jam the extinguisher hose into his assailant’s mouth. With a growl of triumph, he squeezed the extinguisher’s release handle to full, holding the hose in place. The intruder shuddered, sparks flying from its steel skull as pressurized water was sprayed into its mouth.
As suddenly as the attack began, it ended; the humanoid machine falling to the sodden carpet with sparks still crackling around its face. Skinner dropped the extinguisher, breathing heavily, and looked up as Agent Doggett barged into the office with a horde of Agents in tow – all with guns drawn.
“It’s alright, I got him,” Skinner muttered, staunching the flow of blood from his broken nose.
A lonely payphone stood dejectedly on an empty section of highway in Southern California, defaced by a decade’s worth of grime and graffiti.
Mulder stopped the rented Ford on the gravel apron and climbed out, stretching as he did so.
“Come on, let’s do this thing,” Scully said, getting out of the passenger side and placing her hands on her hips.
“You’re so hot when you get all businesslike,” Mulder said, smirking. “The act would go really well with a little policewoman’s outfit and a…”
He flinched. “God I wish I had a normal name! Like David or something…” He strode toward the phone box with Scully following.
Crowding into the tiny booth with Scully, he fed his last quarters into the slot and dialled the number that Yves had scrawled on the card. He stooped to allow Scully to put her ear alongside his to listen in as the phone rang.
The ringing stopped, but nobody answered – silence filled the open connection and Mulder frowned in concern.
“Hello?” he said.
“Mr. Mulder, thank you for calling me. I know that your situation is precarious now.” The voice was modulated, disguised electronically to sound like a hollow, rumbling baritone. “I am not one given to observing irony,” the voice went on. “But I must note that your current circumstance is not unlike the one I had found myself in when we first encountered each other many years ago – threatened, vulnerable. Desperate.”
“You say we know each other,” Mulder said suspiciously. “If that’s true then why bother disguising your voice? Why not let me know who you are?”
“You are asking the wrong questions, Mr. Mulder,” the voice droned. “What I have to offer you is not bluff, nor is it a trap, and you can ill afford to alienate me with your distrust and aggressive standpoint. I am not an enemy; not this time.”
“Oh that sounds real persuasive,” Mulder muttered. “Alright, Mr. ‘Cold Angel’, why don’t you lay your hand on the table and we’ll see if you have something I want to risk my hairy white ass for.”
“The means to defeat the alien threat,” Cold Angel replied. “Weapons capable of evening the technological score between humanity and this external threat that you have devoted so many years of your life trying to uncover.”
Mulder snorted. “If you’ve really got that kind of capability, then what could I possibly have that you might need?”
“You and your companion, Miss Scully, both have something that I cannot create or even imagine.”
“Oh yeah? And what’s that?”
“The unique alien genetics contained within your bloodstreams.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plots are the property of the respective authors. No money is being made from these works. No copyright infringement is intended.
This site is run using eFiction.